From Scholastic: Clarissa usually loves the lazy, hazy days of summer. But this year Mattie is away at camp, Benji’s busy with his drama friends and, after the Dairy Bar Incident, who knows what is going on between her and her maybe-boyfriend Michael.
This summer is looking a lot like Mission: Boredom. But then her mom gets engaged, and Clarissa spots a man who looks suspiciously like her long-lost father. Suddenly Clarissa has a new mission: track down Bill Davies and meet him at last. But will she be happy with what she discovers?
And so my Clarissa marathon has come to an end…
But I have loved every page of this series by Canadian author Vikki VanSickle. Days That End in Y, the follow-up to Words That Start With B and Love is a Four-Letter Word, is very Clarissa central. Obviously she was the focus of the other books as well, being the narrator, but in this volume Mattie is away at Camp and Benji is always mysteriously busy, so Clarissa often finds herself alone. Alone and dealing with some heavy duty life issues. Her mom gets engaged, which means that not only is Clarissa dealing with the idea of her mom getting married, but the scary issue of there suddenly being a boy in the house when it’s always just been mother and daughter; I’m sad to say that the distance growing between Clarissa and Benji since the last book is even more pronounced; her relationship with Michael is an unanswered question; and Clarissa is starting to wonder about her long-lost father, who might just happen to be in town. For Clarissa Delaney, the last summer before the high school holds many unexpected surprises and new challenges.
Days That End in Y is so satisfying because it delivers on the promises that have been building throughout the series, plus it has some great surprises. By the end of the book (and the series), Clarissa has grown quite a bit as a character. She is still just as smart-mouthed as ever and, like most teens and tweens, makes a lot of mistakes, but she has gained some confidence along the way and learned that it is OK to be vulnerable. She is ready for high school (where she will inevitably have a whole new slew of problems—perhaps Clarissa Delaney: The Teen Years is in our future?)
SPOILER ALERT: Please skip to the last paragraph if you wish to avoid spoilers.
I love that this book has that pivotal moment when Clarissa realizes her mother isn’t perfect. It’s a tough realization, but one that I think was necessary to the story. It definitely needed this mother-daughter confrontation and I found the moment to be both honest and very heart-warming.
Now let’s take a moment and talk about Benji. He was my favourite character from the first book, the second book we saw a little less of him, and this book has almost no Benji—he’s always too busy to be with Clarissa. That being said, the moments with Benji are so sweet. Clarissa and Benji’s mission to find her father is filled with nostalgia and made me want to go hug my BFF. Then there is the last scene when Clarissa and Benji share a very tender moment that was a long time coming. Benji finally comes out to Clarissa and I commend her on her understanding of what Benji needs from her. Benji lets himself be incredibly exposed and she handles it with an aplomb that shows just how much she has grown. This scene had me tearing up and wanting to hug them both. (It seem’s this book had me wanting to hug everyone…) For that reason, this scene was also the one thing I didn’t like—I didn’t like that it had to end here. I want to find out more about where Clarissa and Benji go from here, which is why I would like to suggest the idea of a companion novel from Benji’s perspective of what comes next. (What do you think Ms. Vansickle and Scholastic?)
Days That End in Y is a wonderfully touching, funny and satisfying end to what is now my favourite contemporary middle-grade series. I recommend this book to middle-grade girls everywhere and to readers like me who, despite no longer being in middle-school, adore stepping back in time to the days of giant blue freezies, first crushes and friendship bracelets—but only to those days that end in Y.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5 hearts)